April 23, 2020

What’s your relationship’s temp?

How are you feeling?

Like, how are you *really* doing?

I’ve heard from friends who don’t feel their marriage will survive quarantine, another whose husband moved out 4 days before the official stay at home order went into effect, two asking for lawyer recommendations, and so many who are seeing now, more than ever, evidence of that leftover 1950s role where women carry more of the heft in a household as compared to their male partners.

Deep breaths.

I am no relationship expert, but I have been through a lot, have spent a princely sum on therapy, have read a lot and have the fortune of being a trusted recipient to listen a lot. But even I have been caught off guard during all of this: I learned via text that my ex-husband has a new partner when he asked me to keep my circle tight because he’s isolating with this immunocompromised stranger-to-me and her child. Um. Say who?? He sent me her LinkedIn profile so I could feel better about my children being exposed to them. Super.

There was so much of this crazy swirling about in my circles that I started a Facebook group for divorced friends who are co-parenting right now. Just like new moms who better process and gain strength in sharing their birth stories, this space, too, has proven a needed outlet for single parents getting through the muck right now.

What I’ve gathered from that group, from my friends who are in healthy marriages, or navigating working from home with or without kids (plus homeschooling!), or maybe without work all together, is that we’re all moving through these days very differently from the next person. We are universally missing and grieving as we adapt and grow, yes, and yet our struggles are each relative as compared to the next person. We aren’t alone and yet we are alone in how the change in routine, the isolation, the economy etc etc affects us personally from our home HQ. This is not easy to do and certainly not easy to understand.

After the obvious suggestion of making sure to use your voice to state your feelings and needs out loud, I only have two nuggets to offer up to those who are feeling wobbly in your partnerships:

1. Would these issues still be present in your relationship if we weren’t living through this unprecedented stress? No matter your answer, don’t be too proud to enlist the help of a professional therapist. They are worth their weight in gold and available to help remotely these days. Searching for resources to help right now? This is a quick digestible interview with relationship gurus the Gottman’s, and here’s an awesome deep-dive opportunity to learn from some of my other favorite experts in a 6-week workshop starting May 7.

2. You must, must find an outlet to give yourself the chance to breathe. Independent of partners. Bosses. Colleagues. Kids. Try on what feels good to you (but maybe avoid trying on your jeans right now bc if you’re like me, that task is an utter disaster. Yikes!) and focus on that! Let go of the rest because right now, it’s those bright spots that are going to see us through to the other side (ie: I am LIVING for my morning coffee and afternoon walks). Savor the good, hour to hour. My favorite parenting coach Carrie Contey always says, “What you appreciate appreciates.”

Forever an optimist, I am hopeful we will emerge stronger and more beautiful— whatever that looks like for each one of us. Cheering you on— from a very safe distance.